It was a great surprise to me to learn this week that, up until Tuesday, UFC fighters were able to bet on their own bouts.
It sounds, at best, a curious decision to have allowed them to wager on their own fights in the first place, and at worse it could – potentially – call into question the integrity of the sport.
Could you imagine a footballer betting on a game they are involved in, or a jockey having a flutter in a horse race they are contesting? It seems preposterous.
Surprisingly, it’s not uncommon for sporting stars to bet on the competitions they are involved in over in America, but the UFC have decided to put a stop to that with their rule change.
The MMA organisation has banned their fighters from wagering on any UFC fight, whether they are involved in or not. The prohibition extends to those that have ‘inside involvement’ in the sport as well, be it a coach, manager or even family member.
UFC just issued this memo to fighters and managers regarding a change in their athlete conduct policy:
UFC fighters are now prohibited from gambling on any UFC fight, regardless of if they are involved or not. They can still be sponsored just not allowed to bet at all. pic.twitter.com/6zhuIITxmx
— Ariel Helwani (@arielhelwani) October 17, 2022
It’s a move that brings the UFC into line with other major sports in the US, and has been designed to enhance the integrity of the UFC but also bring the organisation into line with the rest of the regulated sports betting market in the country, which continues to expand at pace.
These rules haven’t always been in place, however, and in the past the likes of Conor McGregor and Justin Jaynes have wagered on themselves to win their next fight.
So which sports stars have bet on themselves….and did they always go on to win?
I might as well start this journey off with a former UFC fighter who bet his entire purse on himself to defeat Charles Rosa at UFC Vegas 30 back in June 2021.
Justin Jaynes staked a reported $25,000 (£22,000) that he would beat his fellow featherweight, however the decision would backfire when Rosa was handed the victory by the judges – essentially meaning Jaynes fought for nothing.
He claims he has ‘no regrets’ about the bet, but it’s perhaps not a big surprise he was dropped by the UFC shortly after.
According to reports, Floyd Mayweather earned his ‘Money’ nickname after betting $750,000 on himself to win a fight. It has also been suggested he and his team banked more than $1 billion from wagers placed on the pound-for-pound star winning his fights.
There’s no specific rule that outlaws boxers betting on themselves to win a bout, however it is illegal to bet on yourself to lose….for obvious reasons.
Mayweather also tried to place a £310,000 wager on himself to beat Conor McGregor inside ten rounds in their famous 2017 crossover bout, but it’s thought his bet was rejected as boxers can only wager on the fight result market.
Mayweather isn’t the only boxer to coin it in after betting on themselves to win.
Tyson Fury was considered the underdog for his 2015 clash with heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko, but he was so confident of victory that he bet £200,000 on himself to win.
Weirdly, the wager wasn’t struck at the bookies but with a relative who, presumably, didn’t share his relation’s self confidence.
Nevertheless, Fury outpointed Klitschko to wrestle away the belts and land himself £400k from his presumably red-faced relative.
Some sports stars still try to bend the rules on betting….but the punishments are dire when they get found out.
Calvin Ridley was a wide receiver for the NFL franchise Atlanta Falcons, and he was confident in the qualities in their locker room – so much so he wagered upwards of $10,000 on a string of parlays involving the Falcons to win.
Unfortunately for him, Ridley’s ruse was uncovered by NFL officials, and he was suspended for a season after they claimed he ‘put the integrity of the game at risk.’ It meant that Ridley had to sacrifice his $11 million a year salary.
Arguably the most shocking case is that involving MLB hall of famer Pete Rose.
A three-time World Series champion and a 17-time All Star, Rose was set to go down in history as one of the greatest baseball players of all time….until his betting activities were revealed and tarnished his reputation.
It was alleged that he had bet on his own teams across his playing and coaching career, and after initially denying the charges a notebook found as part of a police investigation revealed the extent of Rose’s wagering.
It has long been insinuated that Rose bet against his team, the Cincinnati Reds, while their head coach, although he continues to strenuously deny that he ever wagered against his own.